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  • Rogge Expects 3500 Athletes at 1st Youth Olympic Games


    A scene from the 2005 European Youth Olympic Festival in Lignano, Italy.  

    (ATR) IOC President Jacques Rogge says he thinks as many as 3500 teenaged athletes would participate in the first edition of the Youth Olympic Games, which he is proposing for 2010. The proposal, which is just becoming public, has picked up support from the Australian Olympic Committee, which already stages an event aimed at youth.

    The IOC President tells L’Equipe that the youth games are something he has had in mind since he took office in 2001. As president of the European Olympic Committees, Rogge launched the European Youth Olympic Festival which has continued every other year since 1991. The 2007 festival will be in Belgrade.

    Rogge believes the Youth Olympic Games would be part of a larger strategy to reverse the global decline of youth participation in sport.

    Last week, an IOC working group met at headquarters in Lausanne to work on a proposal that will be considered at the Executive Board meeting in Beijing next month.

    While EB approval is needed for the project to move ahead, the event may also need the approval of the full IOC Session. Also unclear is how the host for the YOG would be selected: by the Session or by the EB ?

    In comments to L’Equipe, the IOC president says he has had a positive reaction from all the international sports federations on the Summer Olympic program. But he says the progr

    am for the Youth Olympic Games would consist of far fewer events than the regular summer program. Athletes would range in age from 14 to 18.

    Rogge’s proposal has drawn a note of support from Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates. The AOC organizes the Australian Youth Olympic Festival every other year, the most recent held in January.

    “We have been conscious for some time

    of the need to better relate to our youth,” says Coates.

    “This is why we have conducted four Australian Youth Olympic Festivals as the most important legacy of the Sydney Olympics.

    “A World Youth Games will give us the opportunity to try new sports relevant to the younger generation and, as we have experienced with the AYOF, instill in these competitors the important values the Olympic Movement has to offer,” says the statement from the AOC.

    Coates says planning is already underway for the Australian festivals in 2009 and 2011. About 1600 teens from 20 nations competed in the 2007 AYOF; 16 sports were on the program.

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